Author Archives: Britt MacDonald

Street dedication party a resounding success

 

Thank you to everyone who attended our street dedication party in October! It was a wonderful day complete with a ribbon cutting on our new street and speeches from our founder, Bernie Turner, and one of our past Executive Directors, Marianne Mills. The McMinnville American Legion Post provided a color guard to kick off the march down the street followed by the McMinnville High School dance team. The festive celebrations ended back at the legion post with cookies and music from the Yamhillbillies.

Turner Way is slated for completion in early 2017. We would like to say a very special Thank You to our event sponsors, Washington Roofing and Gormley Plumbing and Mechanical for helping us build homes, community and hope in Yamhill County. Thank you also to the American Legion, MacHigh Dance Team, and all of our fabulous volunteers who made this day possible.

Cheers!

MacHabitat Staff

Message from our new Executive Director, Mary Stern!

It’s hard to believe that three months have gone by since I took the helm at MacHabitat.  It has truly been a whirlwind!  So much has happened in only a short amount of time.  I am thrilled to be part of this wonderful organization, that has been building homes, community, and hope for 25 years.

Shortly after I started, Traci Spurgeon and her three beautiful children moved into their new home at the Aspire development.  And by the end of the year, this wonderful family should have new neighbors in two adjacent homes.  Seeing the joy on the faces of our partner families has convinced me that I am doing the work I was meant to do.  It’s why our volunteers, donors, and business partners support MacHabitat’s work!

You may have noticed that the new street is going in at the new Aspire subdivision at Cumulus and Atlantic Streets in McMinnville.  Schmidt Excavating has been going gangbusters out there and we anticipate the road will be completed by mid-October.  This will open up access to 26 lots, which will bring the total to 34 homes for this subdivision. That means it’s time to celebrate!

Please join us for our Street Dedication party on Sunday, October 23, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at the Aspire development.  Our new street, Turner Way, is named for our beloved founder and friend, Bernie Turner.  With help from Gormley Plumbing and Washington Roofing, we are thrilled to be able to honor Bernie and 25 years’ worth of volunteers and supporters.  The Yamhillbillies will be playing, the Mac High Dance Team will be dancing, and our Snack Ladies will provide the treats . . . just like they do for our volunteers who work at the home construction sites.  I trust that it will be a beautiful Indian Summer day!

Thanks to each of you who has supported our important goal of ending poverty housing.  Because of your involvement, MacHabitat’s future is brighter than ever!

Lessons of success from the Bend ReStore

bend-restore-photo

At MacHabitat we never stop learning! We attend quarterly networking meetings and our annual, statewide conference. We also try to get to the international conference in Georgia that happens every two years as well. Closer to home, we also take field trips, and such was the case this past August. Six staff members visited the Bend ReStore to learn the details of their successful operation, and we learned a lot.

One of the challenges facing any ReStore is processing what often seems a torrent of donations. Don’t get me wrong; we always want more. But it can be a little overwhelming when there is a line of cars, trucks, and trailers, bristling with everything from a refrigerator to a set of kitchen cabinets, to a sofa, to twenty gallons of paint. And once the vehicles are unloaded and the donor receives a donation receipt, there is the work of sorting, cleaning, sometimes repairing, always pricing, and then taking the items into the store. The Bend facility showed us labor saving aids like toilet or window carts, and methods like immediate sorting, then storing until there is time to process.

But for me the chief lesson may have been “The donor is more important than the donation.” What does that mean and how is the philosophy implemented? It means a primary goal is building long-term relationships in the community. No, we really don’t want a package of disposable diapers or a Mr. Coffee machine; those aren’t part of our merchandise mix. But there are times it’s best to take the items, knowing we can pass them along to City Outreach Ministries or Saint Vincent de Paul. Rarely, we’ll simply dispose of unwanted items for the convenience of our donor. It costs us some money, but the under the proper circumstances it’s the right thing to do. Without happy donors, there wouldn’t be a ReStore. And without ReStores, Habitat would certainly build fewer homes.

Such a Fine Fellow! Meet Sam Fields

Sam Fields is the newest member of our MacHabitat team. Sam comes to us as an Encore Fellow a program that matches newly retired professionals interested in community service with non-profit organizations for a 1,000 hour assignment. The Encore Fellow’s goal is to build capacity of the host agency by using professional skills. Sam will be using his vast experience with Lean Concepts and project management to help us streamline and improve the processes used at the ReStore in receiving and selling donated goods.

Sam is a resident of Dayton. He proudly served twenty years in the United States Navy Submarine Service. He spent most of his time serving the country stationed on the East Coast. During his career, he received a valuable education in electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, and learned the skills necessary to be a good team player and leader. Upon his retirement in 1994, he joined Intel where he spent the next twenty-two years. While at Intel, Sam continued to learn and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Throughout his years in the Navy and at Intel, Sam enjoyed coaching youth sports including basketball, baseball, and football. Sam also enjoys golf, Beaver Football, kayaking, hiking, and riding his motorcycle. His favorite pastime is hanging out with his grandson, Kase.

In only a few weeks, Sam has made a noticeable impact in the receiving area of the ReStore. We are excited about the potential for future improvements spearheaded by Sam. Stop by and see for yourself!

Disaster relief volunteers learn new skills to help their neighbors

Volunteers with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led non-profit disaster relief organization, conducted a “Readiness Exercise” September 16th- 18th in McMinnville at MacHabitat’s Aspire Development. The goal of the drill was to increase their ability to help homeowners impacted by events such as floods, wind storms and wildfires. This event was conducted like a disaster response operation, without the disaster, so that the volunteers could learn to be efficient and effective in helping impacted communities when a disaster does strike. The hands-on work centered around construction at our Aspire development.

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Beyond disaster relief, they help veterans find a renewed sense of
purpose, which is vital as many return to civilian life after more than a decade of war.

The non-profit’s most recent operations in Region X (WA, OR, ID, and AK) were responses to winter flooding in northern Oregon earlier this year and to the fires in Okanogan County, WA, last year. Team Rubicon Region X is a regular partner with the McMinnville Habitat for Humanity and participates in monthly builds as a means of providing its volunteers opportunities for engagement and service between disasters. This Readiness Exercise was an extension of that partnership, benefitting both organizations.

A huge thank you to our other partners on this project, First Baptist Church for their hospitality and the American Legion Post #21 for a delicious lunch and overwhelming support.

To learn more about Team Rubicon’s mission, visit www.teamrubiconusa.org

-Photo by Frank Pons

Traci Spurgeon’s Home Dedication Report

Traci Spurgeon and her three children were living in substandard housing when she began her relationship with MacHabitat. Traci applied to our Homeownership Program in January 2015 and was accepted into our program in April 2015. Over the following 15 months, Traci, along with her friends and family, completed over 300 hours of sweat equity, by attending homeowner classes, working on her house, working in the ReStore, volunteering at events, and helping build her neighbors’ houses. On July 15, Traci signed her mortgage documents.

 

The preparation and dedication of a new home is not only a testament to the hard work of the volunteers who built the house, but also to the generosity of our community partners, like Washington Roofing, who has provided free roofs to every MacHabitat home for 25 years. In preparation for move-in day, volunteers made sure the new house was spotlessly clean, Morris Carpet Cleaning generously donated their services to clean the insides and outsides of the windows, and McMinnville Grocery Outlet filled the empty cabinets for with food, spices, toiletries, and necessities – a gift they provide our new homeowners. .

We celebrated and dedicated Traci’s home on July 16 in the presence of Traci’s three children, her partner, friends, family, coworkers, community members, and volunteers and staff of MacHabitat. Traci’s employer, Harvest Fresh, donated a delicious feast and volunteers from community groups, such as First Presbyterian Church and the American Needlepoint Guild, presented gifts of their craft including hand-made quilts for each of the children and a beautiful dated ornament.

Seeing the joy in the faces of this sweet family eminds us all of the power of our contributions! Thank you to everyone who was a part of making Traci’s dream of homeownership become a reality!

Photo Credit: Frank Pons

Meet our September volunteer of the month, Kurt Holmgreen

Kurt Holmgreen started volunteering with MacHabitat in 2015; he was an out of the blue blessing He showed up in the office one day asking to volunteer and, after only one year with us, he is an integral part of our “regular crew”. When asked why he chose to volunteer with MacHabitat he said, “I have always believed in giving back to the community.” Kurt has lived a life in example of that, retiring after serving 34 years with his local fire department.

Kurt got involved with Habitat through his brother-in-law who is a regular Habitat volunteer in Sisters, Or.  When asked how volunteering at MacHabitat has impacted him, Kurt replied, “-It has broadened my perspective of different people coming together. I love to see different people sharing their skills and their backgrounds with one another.”

Kurt councels prospective volunteers interested in construction to, “Look at the end result of who the home is for. Don’t be concerned about not having the right skills because we all learn new skills every day we are out there. “

Besides volunteering with us, Kurt loves to camp and spend time with his family. He is also often found playing volleyball, basketball, and working with clay sculpture and watercolors. An art minor in college, Kurt is a visual person, something that can be seen at the construction site as he often makes small drawings before starting a project! When asked what super power he would choose if he could, Kurt thoughtfully said,” I would wish I could bring cohesion to groups. We are all too divided to really get to know one another. I would like to be able to have people get along and all learn to enjoy each other’s company.”

Thank you for your service, Kurt. We love having you as a volunteer!